Chargers to ask for $650m-plus in city land rights to help fund new stadium

U-T San Diego has a smidge more information about that plan to put a San Diego Chargers stadium plan on the ballot in 2016: Team stadium czar Mark Fabiani says it will involve the city handing over development rights to Qualcomm Stadium, the team selling the rights to a developer for a whole bunch of money, then bundling a “portion” of the profits worth $650 million with $200 million in NFL money and $200 million out of the Chargers’ pocket to pay for a $1 billion stadium in downtown San Diego.

This is pretty much the same deal that Fabiani has been talking about for months now, and U-T San Diego, having abandoned any pretense at actual journalism, doesn’t bother to interview a single other person about it (except for one random “city resident” who doesn’t like the deal), so there’s a lot we still don’t know: Do the Chargers actually have a developer lined up who’d pay $650-million-plus for development rights for the Qualcomm site? Could they build downtown for $1 billion, including land costs? And if Qualcomm development rights are so lucrative, would the city be better off just developing the site themselves? (This might mean letting the team move if they have to clear the stadium space, but maybe the city could use some of the development riches to give fans gas vouchers or something to drive to L.A.)

The main takeaway here, such as it is, seems to be that if the Chargers can structure this deal to use only city land, not city tax money, it will only require a majority vote, not two-thirds.

Chargers ready to put stadium on ballot … in two and a half years

The San Diego Chargers ownership has been plotting a new stadium approximately forever, and now plans on waiting a bit longer still: Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani has said he hopes to put a new stadium on the county ballot in November 2016, in time for the next presidential election.

And how would that new stadium be paid for, exactly?

The Spanos family and investment partners would put up roughly $400 million and seek a $200 million loan from the NFL. The rub comes in how the remaining roughly $400 million would be financed.

That’s indeed a rub. As is the fact that the Chargers don’t know where they want to build a stadium yet. (Or as U-T San Diego puts it, “they are open to ideas.”) Maybe another two and a half years will give them a chance to throw some more funding ideas at the wall and see which ones stick — though at a certain point, given the success of their neighbors to the north, you have to wonder if they wouldn’t want to consider “build it our own damn selves” as a less time-consuming option.

Chargers, mayor meet on stadium, talk mostly about weather

Stop the presses! The San Diego Chargers and members of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s staff met yesterday to discuss a new stadium plan, and:

In a prepared statement, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office emphasized that the meeting was not the beginning of any formal negotiation on building and financing a new stadium, but more of an information-gathering exercise to learn more about the issue.

“The Mayor’s staff had an introductory meeting today with a Chargers’ representative,” said Matthew Awbrey, chief of communications for Faulconer. “It was an opportunity for both sides to meet each other in person, not the start of any formal negotiation.”

Okay, so actually maybe you don’t have to stop the presses. Except at U-T San Diego, where stopping the presses for the Chargers is already official policy, and which ran this story with the headline “San Diego stadium talks begin” that speculated wildly about where these non-negotiations will end up:

There’s no specific financing proposal, but the most likely plan would include contributions from the team and city with voters having to approve a ballot measure authorizing city resources as part of such a package. Another aspect could involve developing the city-owned sports arena property, where what is now known as the Valley View Casino Center is located, as part of any deal.

It seems pretty likely that Faulconer, despite his repeated insistence that he’s out to “protect taxpayers,” will be more aggressive about pursuing a stadium deal with the Chargers than his predecessors, especially given that U-T publisher and self-proclaimed stadium cheerleader Doug Manchester endorsed his candidacy. But “mayor, Chargers meet, don’t say whether they talked about anything” is an awfully low threshold for news. Let’s check back when something actually happens.

San Diego celebrates 50th anniversary of hands-down nuttiest stadium idea ever

Just because this was proposed back in 1964 doesn’t mean that there was every really a serious chance of San Diego building a floating convertible baseball/football stadium for the Chargers and Padres, especially since the Padres were still a Pacific Coast League team at the time. Still, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the holy crapness of it all:

Chargers: We need new stadium in preparation for L.A. team draining our coffers

San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos wants a new stadium — that’s not remotely news — and with a new mayor in town, they’re gearing up for another push for public subsidies — that’s not news either. What is news is that Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani has come up with a brand-new argument for why San Diego should hurry up and build a stadium, according to ESPN:

Mark Fabiani, special counsel to Chargers president Dean Spanos, said the organization would be devastated by a team outside of California relocating to Los Angeles…

“We have always kept our focus in San Diego to try and get something done here,” Fabiani said. “But at the same time, we have to be cognizant of the fact that if three-quarters of the owners were to allow a team to move to Los Angeles, it would devastate us economically.

“It would be catastrophic for the team financially if the league were to allow another team to go into the Los Angeles market and wipe out 30 percent of our premium sales.”

Let’s follow the bouncing logic here: The Chargers are dependent on the L.A. market for 30% of their premium sales, so the NFL returning to L.A. would be devastating. So if the Chargers don’t get their own stadium … what does that have to do with the NFL returning to L.A.? The only way a Chargers stadium would play into it would be that it would prevent the Chargers from threatening to move to L.A., but “If we move to L.A. we’ll cut into our ticket sales in San Diego” doesn’t make a lick of sense.

The only thing I can think of is that Fabiani is trying to imply that a new stadium would leave the Chargers rolling in so much dough that they could take the hit of an L.A. team without blinking, though then you have to wonder why they need to ask for free development rights to 266 acres of city property as a requirement of the deal. Either that, or he just saw that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke bought some land in L.A. and thought, “Gotta find a way to use this as leverage without actually making a threat to move the team, because people won’t like that.” Let’s go with one of those for now — I have an email in to Fabiani, so will update once it’s light out on the West Coast.

UPDATE: And Fabiani has replied! “The information I provided was in response to a reporter’s question about the location of our premium customer base. There was nothing more to it than that.”

Chargers to new mayor: Congrats on election, now where’s our $900m stadium?

There’s a new mayor in San Diego, and the Chargers are all ready to greet him with their new stadium demands:

After meeting with a ballot lawyer on Tuesday, Fabiani said the team likely is looking at a city-wide special election in June 2015 to seek approval for a long-sought replacement for 70,000-seat Qualcomm Stadium.

“I think that because our issues are going to go to a vote, this is not going to be some kind of backroom deal that someone can characterize as a giveaway to downtown interests,” [Chargers stadium czar Mark] Fabiani said. “It potentially could be one of the most heavily campaigned issues in San Diego, maybe the most campaigned issue ever.”…

Plans for that project have fallen through, so the Chargers hope to build an open-air stadium east of Petco Park, home of baseball’s Padres. It would seat roughly 62,000 fans, with the ability to be expanded to 70,000 seats for Super Bowls. That stadium would cost between $800 million and $900 million, Fabiani said. Besides contributions from the Spanos family and the NFL, the Chargers still want to use proceeds from the sale or lease of the city-owned Qualcomm Stadium site and possibly the sale and lease of the city-owned site of the sports arena.

Okay, so what does new mayor Kevin Faulconer actually think of all this, since the Associated Press apparently didn’t think to check? Faulconer hasn’t said much in the way of specifics, but did earn the backing of U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester, who has already established that he has no patience for anyone who isn’t a “cheerleader” for a Chargers stadium, so that’s probably a decent sign for the Spanos family. If they need to convince not just the mayor (and city council) but the voters in a referendum, though, that could be a tougher nut to crack. Presumably when Fabiani says “heavily campaigned issue” he means “we have a stockpile of unmarked twenties ready to go” — which he’ll probably need to, given the 100-1 rule.

Professional sports team chooses to still have stadium to play in for upcoming season

The San Diego Chargers did not opt out of their lease this week and leave themselves homeless for the 2014 season, which surprised absolutely no one. In fact, I’m only mentioning it here so that in the future, whenever anyone in the media starts screaming that “The team’s lease is expiring! They’ll have nowhere to play!”, I can then link to this item and remind everyone that leases expire all the time and no one has to go play football in the parking lot. Now move along, nothing to see here.

San Diego runoff pits two candidates who both love Chargers and hate tax subsidies, because mayoral candidates, duh

The city of San Diego held a special election yesterday to see who would replace their mayor who had to resign after sexual harassment charges — yeah, I know regular election day was only two weeks ago, but the people of San Diego were busy that night or something — and the winner is … nobody!

Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez will likely face each other in a runoff election for San Diego mayor on a still-to-be scheduled date early next year, according to unofficial results from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters…

Faulconer led a field of 12 candidates in Tuesday’s special election with 43.58 percent of the vote, with vote by mail ballots and all 581 precincts counted, according to figures released by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

Alvarez finished 2,638 votes ahead of former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher in the race for second. He received 52,283 votes, 25.59 percent of the vote, and Fletcher 49,645, 24.3 percent.

With another couple of months before we know who the new mayor will be, that gives us lots of time to read SBNation’s Chargers blog’s item from yesterday helpfully titled “San Diego Mayoral Election: Who will build the Chargers a new stadium?” Because when you’re a Chargers fan, it’s not about whether to have the city build the Chargers a new stadium, it’s who will do it.

Anyway, SBNation reports that Faulconer wants to keep the Chargers in town, protect the taxpayers, blah blah blah, and is the preferred candidate of U-T San Diego lunatic owner and diehard Chargers stadium booster Doug Manchester, so presumably he doesn’t mean all that stuff about protecting the taxpayers too seriously. Alvarez, meanwhile, says he wants to keep the Chargers in town, doesn’t believe in spending taxpayer money … okay, this article doesn’t really say anything at all, does it? Suffice to say that soon San Diego will have a new mayor, and whoever it is will end up fielding new stadium demands from the Chargers, and will try to make them happy without actually giving them the taxpayer money that is what it would take to make them happy. Hopefully without groping any Marilyn Monroe impersonators in the process.

Pro-Chargers newspaper threatens team will move to Idaho if stadium not built

Oh, goodie, U-T San Diego, the ersatz newspaper whose owner wants it to be a “cheerleader” for a new Chargers stadium, has a new column out today by sportswriter Nick Canepa on the Chargers’ push for a new stadium. Can’t wait to see which side this one takes!

The drawing board for a new stadium in Mission Valley never was taken down. So the Chargers are going back to it.

It was 11 years ago, when the housing market was a place to shop, that the football franchise proposed building a new stadium, surrounded by condos and retail space, for a portion of the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site. City Hallians, with the vision of a one-eyed bat and the spine of a sponge, nixed the plan — for a variety of reasons, not one making sense.

But tell us what you really think, Nick!

Translated into actual journalism, what the column actually seems to be saying is that now that the San Diego Coastal Commission has approved a convention center expansion plan that doesn’t allow for the Chargers to build a stadium as part of the deal, the team may reconsider the site of its current stadium, which it had previously considered, then moved away from once the convention center site seemed an easier get. Though the team is still trying to keep all its options open: Chargers stadium-dream czar Mark Fabiani told Canepa, “We’ll be watching [the convention center site], but we can’t just sit around and wait while the next mayor is campaigning. So, with the economy and housing situations better, we’re talking another look at the Qualcomm site.”

All of which is pretty dull, which is why Canepa then brings out the big guns:

But the team can’t play in Qualcomm forever. The day will come when the stadium, allowed to deteriorate by the City, will become unplayable, and if the franchise has to move to Boise to play, so be it.

Mark the date: October 17, 2013 is officially the first time that the “our team will move to Idaho” threat has been unleashed, however tongue-in-cheekily. Though it’s probably not surprising that Canepa is the one to have done it, given that he’s previously interpreted his job as to make move threats so that Chargers ownership doesn’t have to. Somebody give that guy a raise! And some fresh pom-poms!

Chargers stadium would cost some untold huge amount of money

And we finally have some cost figures for that new San Diego Chargers stadium plan. According to Fox 5 San Diego, aka apparently the only actual journalists left in town:

Chargers’ stadium plan would cost $1B

Okay, that’s a whole buncha money, and a good bit more than the $800 million that was the team’s last estimate, but given that the new San Francisco 49ers stadium is costing $1.3 billion, not totally unexpected. So what are the details beneath that headline?

A new stadium for the Chargers would cost about $1.2 billion if built as a stand-alone facility, but the city could save money by combining the project with the San Diego Convention Center expansion, a team official said Monday.

Okay, so that’s an even bigger bunch of money. And how would this saving money by combining it with the convention center work, exactly?

Fabiani said in the radio interview that if the stadium and convention center expansion are constructed separately, the price tag would be around $1.6 billion. The figure would lower by $1.2 billion under the Chargers proposal to build them together, he said.

Presumably they mean lower “to” $1.2 billion, which means that this whole “saving money” thing would be more accurately described as “the stadium would cost less if the city kicked in some of its convention center expansion money,” maybe?

Any more details, Fox 5 San Diego, on who would pay how much toward this however many billions of dollars, or where that money would come from? No? Oh, well, I didn’t say they were good journalists, just the only port in the storm…